In a previous blog we talked about how Impact Bias and Focalism and lead to some really bad decisions. In a nutshell, the problem is we so focus on our personal needs when it come to business decisions — like what budgeting system to buy – that our perceptions get distorted. Like a fun house mirror.
The question remains, so what can we do about it?
- Recognize your own, very human, susceptibility to Impact Bias and Focalism.
- Form a cross functional team (not just Finance and IT) to address the problem or issue.
- Survey your end users. Don’t rely on conventional wisdom; get the facts through a survey.
- Get a senior executive to sponsor your project.
Let’s take a look at each of those recommendations in a little more depth.
Recognize your own, very human, susceptibility to Impact Bias and Focalism. We covered this in our prior blog, which you can refer to. But the idea is to avoid focusing just on what matters to you, or what toy believe will be a game changer.
Form a cross functional team (not just Finance and IT) to address the problem or issue. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for this. I just want to make a decision and move on.” But that’s a mistake. You wind up making a decision in an echo chamber, and often that decision winds up getting undermined by your user community and stakeholders who were ignored in the process. And believe it or not, an effective cross functional team winds up producing not only better decisions, but better decisions faster.
Survey your end users. Don’t rely on conventional wisdom; get the facts through a survey. We assume a lot about our end users. We think we know them because we work with them every day, and we wind up relying conventional wisdom. But whether you’re surprised or not by the outcome of the survey, you want data. And your end users appreciate you’re reaching out to them, and will be much more likely to buy into your ultimate decision (especially if it winds up addressing what you uncovered in the survey).
Get a senior executive to sponsor your project. Look, this is always good advice. It can really save you from making decisions in a vacuum. More importantly, senior executives have a broader view, a larger perspective, and can help you understand where your efforts or recommendations fit into the larger scheme of things. And it never hurts to have a senior executive in your corner right from the start.
There are probably a few other recommendations that could be helpful, but this will get you started. And simply being aware of a potential blind spot is more than half the battle. If you have any advice to contribute to avoid the twin traps of Impact Bias and Focalism, please contribute your comments.